Best Cities for Minorities, Global Houston, good moves by METRO, and moreSorry for not posting last week - I was visiting family in California and missing the flooding drama here (same way I missed Allison - you guys should be fearful when I leave town ;-). Speaking of California, we found your lost rain here in Texas - feel free to come and pick it up anytime.
Some big news this week: our Center for Opportunity Urbanism has released its first major report, The Best Cities for Minorities: Gauging the Economics of Opportunity. No surprise - Houston does pretty well. You can read Joel Kotkin's summary of it at RealClearPolitics here. Key excerpts:
"We found, for all three major minority groups, that the best places were neither the most liberal in their attitudes nor had the most generous welfare programs. Instead they were located primarily in regions that have experienced broad-based economic growth, have low housing costs, and limited regulation.
There are other policy implications. Blue state progressives are often the most vocal about expanding opportunities for minority homeownership but generally support land use and regulatory policies, notably in California, that tend to raise prices far above the ability of newcomers -- immigrants, minorities, young people -- to pay. Similarly blue state support for such things as strict climate change regulation tends to discourage the growth of industries such as manufacturing, logistics and home construction that have long been gateways for minority success.
Given the persistence of racial tensions, this data begins to give us a clearer understanding of what actually works for America’s emerging non-white majority. Denunciations of racism, police brutality and xenophobia may be all well and good for one’s sense of justice. But if you want actually to improve the lives of minorities, we might consider focusing instead on policies that promote economic opportunity, keep living costs down, and allow for all Americans to enjoy fully the bounty of this country."UPDATE: WSJ column discusses the report in the context of Baltimore.
Moving on to this week's smaller items:
- I'm excited about the METRO-Culberson agreement, mainly this part: $300 million in federal funds over three years for buses, Park-and-Ride expansion and HOV improvements. That's the right strategy for improving commuter transit, and great use of federal dollars. An MIT urban planning professor tells me that he has seen the future of urban mobility and it is autonomous self-driving vehicles - taxis, transit and personal vehicles. As I've said before, we need to be including this in our planning, and certainly not sinking billions more into light rail. Bravo and congrats to both sides for getting the deal done. Chronicle story here.
- OffCite has 10 things you probably didn't know about TXDoT's I45N rebuild proposal, including a nice shout out for yours truly.
- If this isn't crass, I don't know what is: unions fight for higher minimum wages, then give themselves an exception in the law so they can force employers to accept unions to lower their wage bill below minimum wage. Workers actually end up *worse off* with the union, but the unions grow their membership and rake in the dues. Wow.
- GHP has released their Global Houston report. I especially like how it measures Houston against some criteria for a global city (pages 2 and 3). "The report goes beyond the well-known facts about Houston's position as a global leader and focuses on export demand, trends in foreign direct investment, real estate acquisitions and corporate business ties. The report also includes Trade Profiles highlighting Houston’s top 20 trading partners."
- Pretty surprised only 37% of Houston considers itself suburban!
- How's this for evidence of Houston's impressive ability to densify to meet market demand: 4,400 apt units are under construction in Montrose/Midtown/Museum District, one-third of all apartments under construction in Harris County!
- GHP has released a new fact sheet infographic about Houston - lots of good stuff you probably didn't know...
Labels: affordability, autonomous vehicles, demographics, density, development, energy, growth, home affordability, Metro, mobility strategies, opportunity urbanism, port, rankings, transit, world city